Whole-genome sequencing reveals small genomic regions of introgression in an introduced crater lake population of threespine stickleback

Ecol Evol. 2016 Mar 2;6(7):2190-204. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2047. eCollection 2016 Apr.


Invasive species pose a major threat to biological diversity. Although introduced populations often experience population bottlenecks, some invasive species are thought to be originated from hybridization between multiple populations or species, which can contribute to the maintenance of high genetic diversity. Recent advances in genome sequencing enable us to trace the evolutionary history of invasive species even at whole-genome level and may help to identify the history of past hybridization that may be overlooked by traditional marker-based analysis. Here, we conducted whole-genome sequencing of eight threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) individuals, four from a recently introduced crater lake population and four of the putative source population. We found that both populations have several small genomic regions with high genetic diversity, which resulted from introgression from a closely related species (Gasterosteus nipponicus). The sizes of the regions were too small to be detected with traditional marker-based analysis or even some reduced-representation sequencing methods. Further amplicon sequencing revealed linkage disequilibrium around an introgression site, which suggests the possibility of selective sweep at the introgression site. Thus, interspecies introgression might predate introduction and increase genetic variation in the source population. Whole-genome sequencing of even a small number of individuals can therefore provide higher resolution inference of history of introduced populations.

Keywords: Biological invasion; Japan Sea stickleback; conservation genomics; exotic species; fisheries; hybridization; next‐generation sequencer; rapid evolution.